Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Courage Porter and Stout 1920 - 1928 (part two)

It seems like ages since the first part of my look at Courage Porter and Stout in the 1920's. That's because I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. Even though I only posted it a few days ago.

That's the way I work: way in advance, mostly. My life is so busy currently that I need to keep on top of my blog posts. I wouldn't want to miss a day.

I won't bother discussing the Porter and Stout separately because they were always parti-gyled together.

The recipes in the early years aren't a million miles away from the classic 19th-century Porter grists: a combination of pale, brown and black malts. With a small amount - less than 10% of the total - sugar thrown in. One difference with the 1800's is the proportion of black and brown malt. They would have been the other way around: 15-20% brown and 5% black.

Here are Courage's grists from the 1860's for comparison purposes:

Courage Porter and Stout grists in 1867
Beer OG lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl pale malt brown malt black malt
Stout 1067.31 11.43 4.42 76.78% 19.35% 3.87%
Porter 1057.06 9.38 2.37 76.26% 18.65% 5.09%
Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/275.

I'm not totally sure what they mean by black invert. It could be No. 4 invert under a different name.

The grists from later in the decade contain a couple of significant differences.  Crystal malt and oats have been added. The latter presumably because some was marketed as Oatmeal Stout, which was very popular between the wars. The quantity is considerably more than at London rivals Barclay Perkins and Whitbread. Oats made up less than 0.5% of Whitbread's grist and less than 0.25% of Barclay Perkins'. Way too little to have any noticeable effect. The 5% Courage used may well have been discernible.

It's all change with the sugars. Out go the caramel and black invert, and in comes cane sugar (West Indies and Mauritius) and proprietary sugars (CDM and Durax). Overall the sugar content rose from under 10% to getting on for 15%. This was at the expense of the roasted malts, whose combined share declined from around 20% to just 10%. Presumably the proprietary sugars were emulating the roasted malt character.

There are two consistent factors in the hopping: West Coast and English hops. Which is pretty typical for between the wars. The Alsace and Poperinge hops which pop up occasionally were cheap alternatives.

Here's the full grist table:

Courage Porter and Stout grists 1920 - 1928
Year Beer OG pale malt brown malt black malt crystal malt oats no. 3 sugar caramel black invert Duttson CDM West Indian/Mauritius Durax hops
1920 Double Stout 1043.8 68.21% 9.27% 13.91% 1.55% 7.06% Californian, Alsace and English.
1920 Stout 1047.4 72.26% 7.30% 10.22% 3.41% 6.81% Californian, Poperinge and English
1921 Stout 1043.8 68.59% 9.01% 13.16% 1.85% 7.39% Californian, Alsace and English.
1923 Stout 1043.8 66.21% 6.90% 10.34% 6.21% 4.60% 5.75% Pacific and English
1926 Stout 1045.4 65.58% 5.58% 5.58% 5.58% 4.65% 5.89% 7.13% Oregon and English
1927 Stout 1045.4 64.71% 5.23% 5.23% 5.23% 6.54% 5.88% 7.19% Oregon and English
1928 Stout 1046.5 59.06% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 4.09% 6.61% 3.78% Oregon, British Columbian and English
1920 Porter 1029.6 68.59% 9.01% 13.16% 1.85% 7.39% Californian, Alsace and English.
1921 Porter 1029.6 68.59% 9.01% 13.16% 1.85% 7.39% Californian, Alsace and English.
1922 Porter 1032.7 66.12% 6.91% 9.87% 4.61% 7.89% 4.61% Californian and English
1922 Porter 1032.7 66.02% 6.80% 9.71% 4.85% 8.09% 4.53% Californian and English
1923 Porter 1032.7 66.21% 6.90% 10.34% 6.21% 4.60% 5.75% Pacific and English
1926 Porter 1032.7 62.34% 6.39% 6.39% 6.39% 5.33% 5.86% 7.28% Oregon and English
1926 Porter 1032.7 65.58% 5.58% 5.58% 5.58% 4.65% 5.89% 7.13% Oregon and English
1927 Porter 1032.7 64.71% 5.23% 5.23% 5.23% 6.54% 5.88% 7.19% Oregon and English
1928 Porter 1032.7 59.06% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 4.09% 6.61% 3.78% Oregon, British Columbian and English
Courage brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/08/251, ACC/2305/08/253, ACC/2305/08/255 and ACC/2305/08/256.

As Courage brewed a limited range of beers, we've just one set to go, Strong Ales. I'm sure I'll get around to that sometime soon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hoare Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925

Here's another series you probably hoped I'd forgotten about: draught beer quality in 1920's London pubs.

I've still barely scratched the surface. There's a long, long way to go yet.

But first, the story of yet another brewery fire:

"FIRE AT HOARE'S BREWERY.- The greatest possible alarm was raised during Thursday night in consequence of a report being raised that the premises of Messrs. Hoare, the well-known brewers in Lower East Smithfield, were on fire. The intelligence was promptly forwarded to the brigade engine stations, and in the course of a few minutes Mr. Fogo, the foreman of the district, attended with three engines, when it was found that the outbreak had taken place in No. 13 sampling-store, but what cause could not be ascertained. Owing to the exertions of the workmen and firemen, the games were confined to that part of the premises in which they commenced, but not until a wooden closet and about 20 dozen bottles of stout, &c., were destroyed. Considering the extent of the premises the damage may be described as inconsiderable, and the business will not in the least degree be retarded by the outbreak. The firm is insured in the Sun, Union, Phoenix, and Imperial fire-offices."
London Daily News - Saturday 08 October 1859, page 7.

It's no wonder they raised a serious alarm. Brewery fires could be pretty dangerous if they got a hold - as the 1832 fire at Barclay Perkins demonstrates. Though this one doesn't appear to have been that destructive. Only a cupboard and 240 bottles of beer were lost. Bugger all, really, for a brewery of Hoare's size. In money terms, just £4 to £5.

Right, on with Hoare's Pale Ale. As a reminder, their Burton Ale came 10th of 14 with a score of 0.67.  Their Mild 9th of 17 with a score of 0.30. That's middling to poor.

This is an 8d/7d Ordinary Bitter type. The gravity is scarily close to the average of beers of this type, which is 1046º. But, because its attenuation is below the average of 80%, it has a little lower ABV.

Hoare Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1011.2 1045.7 4.48 75.49% grey v fair 2 8d
1922 PA 1013.8 1047.3 4.34 70.82% bright rather poor -1 8d
1922 PA 1012.7 1046.2 4.35 72.51% bright good 2 8d
1922 PA 1012 1047 4.54 74.47% bright v thin -2 8d
1923 PA 1014.4 1044.9 3.95 67.93% hazy unpleasant after flavour -2 8d
1923 PA 1010.8 1046.3 4.61 76.67% not quite bright poor -1 8d
1923 PA 1010.8 1046.3 4.61 76.67% not bright poor -1 8d
1923 PA 1012.2 1046.7 4.48 73.88% bright fair 1 7d
1923 PA 1012.6 1045.6 4.28 72.37% not bright poor -1 7d
1925 PA 1010.6 1047.1 4.75 77.49% brilliant v good 3 7d
Average  1012.1 1046.3 4.44 73.83% 0.00
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

What can I say except what a mixed bunch. Five out of ten were clear, which I now realise isn't too bad. But only four got positive score for flavour, which isn't very good. It's only because there were two twos and one three in the positives that the overall average is zero.

It's interesting to see that there's no correlation between clarity and quality. Two of the bright samples got negative flavour scores and one of the best for flavour wasn't bright. Not sure what to make of that.

Based on these results, I'd be pretty wary of ordering Bitter in a Hoare tied house.

Monday, 21 April 2014

A second San Diego event

Here's early warning of a second event I'll be doing while in San Diego next month.

It's one aimed at professional brewers and will dfeature me talking about the role of Brettanomyces in British brewing. I think it's a pretty damn interesting hour or so of bug fun.

These are the details:

18:00 at The Brew Project
1735 Hancock St #1,
San Diego, CA 92101

You can find more information here.

In addition to hear my gentle East Midlands tone, you'll also have a chance to see just how dreadful my handwriting is when I (hopefully) sign lots of copies of my books. Try to get in early, as my writing doesn't get any better as the evening progresses.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer


I've taken my eye off the ball. Too many distractions, would be my excuse. But that's no excuse for missing what's going on in my home town.

New breweries are sprouting like the wild garlic close to my work; savagely ploughed, but throwing up the odd leaf and quick flower nonetheless. In Amsterdam, I mean. More in the last 12 months than in the other 24 years I've lived in Amsterdam.

I'd love to say that I'd noticed myself. A couple were served up to me at the Kimchee Festival last year. Then Dolores found a map. For someone who'd imagined he had his finger up the arse of the Amsterdam pub scene, it was an unexpected piss shower.

Now the kids have entered a less crazy phase (thank you, prescription drugs) me and Dolores have the chance for a little us time. Obviously after she's done the shopping, cleaning, cooking and all manner of other gerunds.

"Do you fancy sussing out Troost?"

As always, I had an ulterior motive. I'd tell you what it was, but my memory isn't what it . . . . er . . . was. Getting pissed. Normally the reason. Let's assume that.



The address of Troost sounded vaguely familiar. A former abbey in De Pijp. The 5 euro cents dropped when I saw a photo. My old Job Centre.

Despite my many skills, I've had the odd bout of unemployment. This particular Job Centre was during the most persistent. I remember plonking down 50 job applications when called in for interview. To show I really was trying to find work. They were pretty reasonable and sympathetic.

Unlike the bastards at the dole office. Who on two different occasions "lost" my application for benefits. "Try not to misplace my forms this time." I suggested the third time I signed on.

Where was I? In a pub with my beloved. Let's forget about past annoyances.

"Tram 2, then 12."

Was the concise answer of Dolores to my question: "How will we get there?"

"Amsterdam, Amsterdam, I live there with my mam." Despite repeated application of a cattle prod, the kids refuse to sing my reworking of a Dutch song.

The sun was shining, birds singing and trams rumbling by when we arrived at Troost. Great for my clicky, clicky photography thing.

Troost is like a virgin. Shiny and new.

The windows onto the inner courtyard tell me these used to be classrooms. I've seen the inside of enough Amsterdam schools to recognise the architecture. More surprised that they kept some of the furniture. The metal/plywood chair I'm shuffling my arse around on in a futile attempt to attain bottom nirvana looks like school issue. It's a discomfort I thought I'd waved goodbye to in 1975.

Ten taps. That's what you nerdy thing wanted to know. Only three different beers, mind.

New German brewpubs. Mostly shit. With their unholy trinity of Helles, Dunkles and Weizen. All green, cloudy and generally unappetising. Sometimes the Dunkles can be worked down without gagging. With a nose clip and determination.

Dolores has a Weizen. I'm more interested in the waitress in leather kecks, but give it a try. Banana, clove: it flicks foam into all the right boxes. Not a bad try at all.

I pick IPA. There are loads of explanations I could give. Not a fan of Blond Ales, Weizen not really my thing unless it's Schneider. Let's give honesty a try: the IPA was the strongest. 

It was on a bit of a hiding to nothing. In the last few weeks I've had some cracking IPA-ey things. Two Hearted, Flower Power, All Day IPA and the De Molen/Het Ij Double IPA. There's nothing wrong with it: clean, bitter and perfectly drinkable. I'd have preferred more hop aromas, but I'm a picky bastard. And they've only just started. Perfecting recipes takes time.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A change in the habits of the people

In old newspapers you sometimes find items which are clearly adverts, but not marked as such. Come to think of it, that's not so different from newspapers today.

If I'm honest, I'm not quite sure what is being advertised. What is a Golden Ale Tablet? Some form of handheld computer?

"The problem to provide a wholesome, stimulating, and satisfying drink that will not intoxicate has at last been solved. This long-felt want has been met by Messrs. Brodrick's, of Dudley, whose Gold Medal Patent Golden Ale and Nourishing Stout Tablets recall the days when our forefathers brewed their own ale. These delightful home-brewed beers are indistinguishable from the best bottled beers, and are perfectly pure and wholesome; being made from the finest malt and hops, which, by Brodrick's patent processes, are rendered non-intoxicating, while preserving all the essential virtues, thus making an ideal beverage for meals. The reference made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his notable Budget Speech to the "remarkable decline that has taken place in recent years in the consumption of alcohol" shews the increasing need for such non-alcoholic beers as those produced Messrs. Brodrick's Patents. We are, indeed, as Mr. Austen Chamberlain went on say, "witnessing a change the habits the people." This is only natural and wise when the means satisifying the taste and palate are available at practically one-fourth the usual cost; while the same time the genuine beverage we have long been accustomed to is obtainable in this more desirable form. In addition to the Golden Ale and Nourishing Stout, Messrs. Brodrick manufacture Tablets of Concentrated Wine, and their Compressed Hop Tablets are invaluable in the house for making poultices, compressions, infusions, etc. Samples are obtainable from most grocers and chemists, redirect from Messrs. Brodrick's Patents, Dudley."
Lichfield Mercury - Friday 30 June 1905, page 3.
Just another weird, random old reference to Golden Ale.

Disclosing gravity

Here's another gem I uncovered while looking for something else.

There was a lot of friction between working men's clubs and brewers after WW I. Clubs suspected brewers of overcharging for beer. Which was one of the reasons many clubs breweries opened around then. They didn't trust brewers, so made beer themselves.

That might explain why clubs were keen to find out the gravity of the beer supplied by brewers. Supplying weaker beer would be a way of upping the price, without it being obvious.


Derbyshire branch of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, Ltd., is supporting a measure adopted by the national executive of the union  to compel brewers to state the gravity beer supplied to various clubs.

At a meeting of Derbyshire representatives Westhouses prior to the general election, a resolution to this effect, drawn by the executive in London, was presented and passed. All the M.P.s the county were approached and asked if they would support a bill, and opinion was divided.

This procedure was adopted in all the branches throughout the county, and, so for, 95 M.P.s have agreed to support the Bill, which will be introduced in Parliament during the next session. The Chancellor to asked to receive a deputation on the matter.

The union has four M.P.s of its own.


Derbyshire clubs obtain a good deal of their beer from the union's own brewery in Leicester, and this is always of standard gravity.

Other beer is supplied by Messrs. Offllers, Ltd.. Derby, Messrs. W. Griffiths, and Messrs. John Hair & Sons, Melbourne.

Mr. R. W. Griffiths told a "Derby Telegraph" representative that if the Bill passed the breweries would boycott the clubs and would not supply any beer. Mr. J. Wood, the local secretary of the Union, stated that this would not affect them, as they would be able to get all they required from their own brewery.

Mr. C. Offiler said: "As far this country is concerned, working men's clubs will never be able to compel us to disclose the gravity.


If they want to know the gravity of beer, it is a perfectly simple matter to send it to any analyst, and they have it analysed in half hour."

The executive of the Union took this step following repeated complaints from the clubs that thp strength of beer supplied appeared to vary."
Derby Daily Telegraph - Saturday 12 December 1931, page 7.
You have to assume that brewers were pulling the trick of dripping the gravity unannounced, based on the level of hostility from Mr. Offiler. And the fact he was prepared to lose trade rather than disclose his beer's gravity.

Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 23 March 1934, page 16.

Of course brewers could be forced to reveal their gravities, if parliament insisted. Which is what happened in the 1980's. Though CAMRA - by doing exactly what Mr. Offiler suuggested, getting beers analysed themselves - had already let the cat out of the bag.

I can only think of one brewery that voluntarily put the gravity on their labels: Federation. Unsurprisingly, a clubs brewery.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

BYO challenge

Can someone send me a scan of the article in Brew Your Own magazine that starts like this?

"Beer historian Ron Pattinson, of the blog Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, is famous for writing about the longevity of ideas in the brewing community. His research provides some necessary grounding to the lofty ambitions of today's inventive craft brewers, who are fond of re-inventing the wheel and then arguing about what to call it. As Pattinson often points out, there are very few concepts in beer you could come up with that weren't already being brewed a couple hundred years ago.

But I would like to issue a bit of a challenge to Mr. Pattinson, or any other beer historians, for there is a realm of beer that I believe has never bubbles inside any historic fermentation tank--those fermented exclusively with Brettanomyces. When it comes to 100% Brett-fermented beers, we may be dealing with the only style of beer truly invented by modern brewers during the craft beer revolution."


Me in San Diego

Since getting back from my last US trip several people have said: "I wish I'd known you were going to be in Philadelphia/ Boston/New York/Washington DC. Despite me having banged on about it for weeks here on the blog, many still didn't notice.

I don't want that to happen in San Diego because, while I'll probably be on the East Coast again, I'm not sure when I'll return to California. It's such a long way from here. I'm already dreading the flight.

14th to 18th of May is when I'll be there. I hope the weather's nice.

There will be at least one other event while I'm in town, but this is the one that's all firmed up. An event intended for home brewers where I'll give one of my legendary off the top of my head little chats about historic beer, followed by a question and answer session.

It's on Saturday, May 17th from 11am - 1pm at ChuckAlek Independent Brewers in Ramona, CA.
You can find more details about it here.

I'll also be signing (that's what I call it, someone less kind might say scribble) my book:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065

Random brewery - Clarkson's Berkshire Brewery

You'd never believe it, but I've been searching the newspaper archive looking for something about Simonds of Reading. Particularly unsuccessfully. It didn't help that I spelled Simonds with two M's. I can never remember that. No idea why.

Here's an advert for another Reading brewery that I did find.

Here's the text in, er, text form:


A. CLARKSON'S Fine ALE and BEER, equal to the best Home-brewed, being brewed from the best Malt and Hops that can be produced, regardless of expense.

MR. A. CLARKSON begs leave to return his sincere thanks to his numerous friends and supporters, for the very liberal patronage they have been pleased to bestow upon him since his commencement in the Brewing business. He also begs leave to inform his friends and the inhabitants of Reading and the vicinity that his Fine Mild October ALES of the present season, are now ready for consumption, which he can confidently recommend to all who love a glass of pure Home-brewed Beer.

Orders thankfully received and punctually attended to at No. 53, King's Road, Reading.

Supplied in Casks, of any size, at the following prices:"
Berkshire Chronicle - Saturday 24 January 1852, page 1.

Why have I bothered?  A couple of reasons. First, that the brewer claims his beer is as good as home brewed. What commercial brewery today would make that claim?  I'm pretty sure by home brewed he means domestically brewed beer. Which had a good reputation because domestic brewers didn't skimp on ingredients.

Secondly, there's a distinction made between Ale and Beer. Even though there's only one Beer in the list, T.B. or Table Beer. All the others being Ales.

Thirdly, the use of the phrase "Fine Mild October ALES". Why? Because October Ales and Beers were usually Stock or Old, not Mild. Never seen Mild October Ales before. I thought the whole point of brewing them in October was because they kept better. Not something that's very relevant with an Ale that's going to be sold young.

And finally, the fact that there are only Ales and a Table Beer. No Pale Ales but, more unusually, neither Porter nor Stout. Very odd.

Why no potted history of the brewery? Because it deosn't get a mention in "A Century of British Brewers Plus". There is something in there called the Berkshire Brewery. But it's a much later brewery. Because that was the name of the huge Courage brewery in Worton Grange, the one which replaced the Simonds brewery in Reading.

Amazing how many words I span out of that random find.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Book tarting again

I'm not just trying to persuade North Americans that they need to own my book. I'll be pestering Europeans, too.

In what might be my only UK appearance this year (I'm fast running out of holidays) I'll be at the Birmingham Beer Bash on 26th July.

It's not totally settled what I'll be doing, but I'll definitely be giving a talk about Brettanomyces in British brewing in the afternoon. Something aimed squarely at the geek crowd. In the evening I'll probably be doing a less formal, for a slightly less geeky audience. Hopefully involving drinking beer and me fielding questions. I'll be bringing along my baseball glove to make sure I don't drop any.

And, of course, at both sessions you'll have the chance to buy my book and have me scrawl something indecipherable in it. I think it's rather good, but I would, wouldn't I? So far reviewers have agreed with me.

If you can't wait to read the crystalised perfection of my prose, buy a copy now and bring it along for me to sign:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

Courage Porter and Stout 1920 - 1928 (part one)

No, I hadn't forgotten about this series. Just got distracted by all sorts of other crap.

Let's start with the Porter. I've just been checking the strength of London Porter in the 1920's. There's a surprising degree of variation. At the bottom is Whitbread Porter, with a pathetic gravity of just 1028º. At the top is Mann, at 1041º. Most are between 1035º and 1038º, which puts Courage Porter at the weak end.

The degree of attenuation is pretty typical. Most of the other breweries' versions are between 70 and 75% apparent attenuation.

That's fairly decent hopping, around 1 lb per barrel, for a beer of this gravity. It's about the same as Whitbread's but 50% more than Barclay Perkins'. I'm sure that you're glad to hear that.

Courage's was a 7d Stout (8d until 1923). That is, a pint  on draught cost that much in a public bar. Most London Stouts were 1d a pint dearer and had gravities between 1050º and 1055º. Wenlock was one of the few other 7d Stouts and that also had a gravity around 1045º. There were plenty of bottled Stouts in the 1040's, especially the cheaper ones sold in quart bottles. Some were even under 1040º

Not sure why Double Stout suddenly became just plain Stout. Maybe they realised it was a bit of a cheek calling something of such a modest gravity double. Or perhaps it was just that, with only one Stout in their lineup, qualification of the name wasn't needed.

Courage Porter and Stout 1920 - 1928
Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp
1920 Double Stout 1043.8 1011.6 4.25 73.42% 7.37 1.62 1.5 1.5 1 62º
1920 Stout 1047.4 1015.0 4.29 68.42% 5.09 1.18 1.75 1.75 1 62º
1921 Stout 1043.8 1010.0 4.47 77.22% 7.14 1.56 1.5 1.5 1 61.5º
1923 Stout 1043.8 1011.4 4.29 74.05% 7.54 1.58 1.5 1.5 1 60.5º
1926 Stout 1045.4 7.34 1.36 1.5 1.5 1 62º
1927 Stout 1045.4 7.17 1.33 1.5 1.5 º
1928 Stout 1046.5 7.71 1.37 1.5 1.5 1 61.25º
1920 Porter 1029.6 1007.2 2.97 75.70% 7.12 1.07 1.5 1.5 1 61º
1921 Porter 1029.6 1007.2 2.97 75.70% 7.14 1.05 1.5 1.5 1 61º
1922 Porter 1032.7 1008.9 3.15 72.88% 6.79 1.15 1.5 1.5 1 60º
1922 Porter 1032.7 1008.3 3.22 74.58% 8.56 1.17 1.5 1.5 1 61º
1923 Porter 1032.7 1008.3 3.22 74.58% 8.29 1.18 1.5 1.5 1 60º
1926 Porter 1032.7 7.50 1.01 1.5 1.5 1 61.5º
1926 Porter 1032.7 7.34 0.98 1.5 1.5 1 61.5º
1927 Porter 1032.7 7.17 0.96 1.5 1.5 º
1928 Porter 1032.7 7.71 0.96 1.5 1.5 1 63º
Courage brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/08/251, ACC/2305/08/253, ACC/2305/08/255 and ACC/2305/08/256.

Next time wwe'll be looking at the grists.